John Russo

John Russo is a visiting researcher at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, co-author of Steeltown U.S.A.: Work and Memory in Youngstown, and co-editor with Sherry Linkon of the blog Working-Class Perspectives.

Recent Articles

Is There Hope for a Blue Ripple (not Wave) in Ohio?

Democrats need to do like Sherrod Brown and promote a progressive populism.

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray shakes hands with supporters in Columbus, Ohio. O n the day after the Ohio primary election, President Trump tweeted about Michael DeWine’s victory in the Republican gubernatorial contest: “Congratulations to Mike DeWine on his big win in the Great State of Ohio. He will be great Governor with a heavy focus on HealthCare and Jobs. His Socialist opponent in November should not do well, a big failure in last job!” With less hyperbole (and fewer capital letters) Politico noted a “lack of enthusiasm” among Ohio Democrats, who selected Richard Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general and then the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as their gubernatorial candidate. Statewide, 147,000 fewer Democratic voted than Republicans, and DeWine received 73,000 more votes than Cordray. DeWine also received more votes than Cordray in 76 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Based on these numbers, Ohio Republicans seem to be...

Jobless Due to Trade? Robots? AI? Why America Needs ‘Just Transitions’

Instead of Band-Aids and nostrums, Democrats need to embrace policies like full employment to win back the support of workers.

Nathan Lambrecht/The Monitor via AP
Nathan Lambrecht/The Monitor via AP A worker prepares crates of U.S. manufactured parts for shipment into Mexico at Freight Dispatch Service Agency LTD in Pharr, Texas. I am constantly amazed that some journalists, especially economic and business reporters, have a difficult time understanding industrial working-class support for Donald Trump. Failure to understand his appeal is particularly important given that Trump’s evolving trade policy, including withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and renegotiating NAFTA, may contribute to his continued support in manufacturing states. In the 2016 election, Trump argued that past trade policy had not benefited the American people. He described appeals to free trade as a charade masking the devastating effects of deindustrialization, which drew popular support from workers in industrial states where manufacturing jobs had disappeared and local communities were devastated. The politics of resentment ran deep in...

Have Ohio Democrats Learned Anything About the Working Class?

But for Sherrod Brown, recent state Democratic candidates no longer know how to appeal to them.

AP Photo/John Minchillo
AP Photo/John Minchillo Gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, left, speaks after receiving the endorsement of Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, right I n presidential elections, Ohio has long been a swing state. Its voters supported Obama in 2008 and 2012, then swung right in 2016 to support Donald Trump. On the state level, however, Republicans have dominated for the past two decades. Only partly due to gerrymandering, they have a 12-to-4 advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Democrats hold only nine of the 33 seats in the Ohio Senate and only a third of the 99 seats in the Ohio House. Republicans have also held the governorship for all but four years since 1990. Progressive U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, now seeking his third term, remains the only Democratic candidate to consistently win statewide elections. Why has the Democratic Party lost so much ground in Ohio? To a large extent, it’s because they have lost the support of white working-class voters. As in other Rust...

Why Democrats Lose in Ohio

An ossified state party needs a long-overdue makeover if this key swing state is to swing back toward the Democrats.

(Photo: AP/John Minchillo)
(Photo: AP/John Minchillo) Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2016, at a Hillary Clinton event on October 24, 2016, in Dayton, Ohio. W hen a Monday Night Football game seemed lost in the 1970s, the late sports announcer Don Meredith would begin singing the Willie Nelson song, “The Party’s Over.” Many Ohio Democrats are now singing the same tune about the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP), and for good reason. Ohio Democrats have suffered two decades of major defeats. Ohio Republicans have a 12-to-4 advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives; Democrats hold only nine seats in the 33-seat Ohio Senate and only 33 of 99 seats in the Ohio House. The last statewide election that Democrats won for an executive branch seat was in 2008. This series of ODP defeats foreshadowed Hillary Clinton’s Ohio defeat in the 2016 election, and it may also put Senator Sherrod Brown, one of the nation’s most prominent liberal Democrats, in danger of losing his 2018 re-election bid...